I went for the first time to Plimoth Plantation as a chaperone for my son’s third grade field trip. I somehow managed to avoid it for my girls. It was really a great trip and the kids were very well prepared. My son said that he preferred learning about the Native American (and Wampanoags specifically) over…
This is part 2 of the 3 part series on Top 10: Best Native American Children’s Books by Debbie Reese. For her Top 10 list of Picture Books, please click here.
In eerily similar circumstances, young Navajo Americans were forced to relocate to attend boarding school where great attempts were made by the school to purge them of their ethnic identity, particularly their language. Both children’s books that are featured talk about harsh punishments for speaking in their native tongue. This forced relocation is not unlike the Japanese Americans during WWII. Is this really America, the home of the free?! This is the ugly underbelly that doesn’t get much press coverage. Am I the only one who didn’t learn about the Navajo Code Breakers at school in U.S. History? I am glad for these books to teach a new generation, and our nation, that the differences that make us unique make our country more powerful. Imagine if that boarding school were successful in wiping out the Navajo language? It’s really not inconceivable if the timing of the war were different!
I guess I am a children’s book award junkie. I really love all short lists for awards even more so than the actual award recipient. There is just something so exciting about a short list; anyone can be the winner. This genre: non fiction for young adult is not where I am reading ahead of my eldest yet as she is just eleven, but I am excited to learn about this award and I’m pretty sure that it will fit the bill for one of my kids in the future.
You know how there are authors that your children always wait impatiently for the next new book? And maybe they do a great series which isn’t that much of a stretch. But then there are other authors that either 1) write in a wide range of genres from picture books to easy chapter books to YA fiction and EVERYTHING they write is amazing? Or 2) maybe it’s just that they never jave a dud even though everyone is allowed a dud when they are a prolific author. Or 3) their work is crazy imaginative! How do they DO that?!
They say that history is written by the victor. In the case of the Native Americans, I would say that while the victors may allow the Native Americans a voice, but they certainly get a better distribution deal. And it’s strange that we, who grow up in the United States, and even study history in college know so little about the Native American heritage.
In this novel by Joseph Bruchac, Jake Forrest leaves his reservation for a posh boarding school in Washington D.C. The two worlds could not be more different, and the only thing in common in the game of lacrosse. But at boarding school, lacrosse is played with a very different attitude than at home.
These Native American children’s books help to depict a portion of their story and I would urge you to share these stories with your children so that their stories are not lost and their rich history becomes mainstreamed. It was both an education and a great pleasure for me to find and read these stories include Abernaki, Iroquis, Mohawk, Lakota, Navajo, Cheyenne, Creek, Cherokee, Potowatami, and Sioux Native Americans.